Monday, 8 March, 1993.
Creche staff seek $2.8M
by Peter Mathias
nearly $2.8 million is being sought from the Christchurch City Council by 13
former workers at the Christchurch Civic Childcare Centre.
Eleven former childcare workers are seeking $250,000 compensation each and
two part-time cleaners seek $20,000 each.
The council made the workers redundant after the creche was abruptly closed
on September 3 last year, when the Ministry of Education withdrew its
operating licence after a police briefing.
The Southern Local Government Officers' Union
last week filed personal grievance papers in the Employment Tribunal on
behalf of the 13 former workers.
The workers include four women against whom sexual abuse allegations were
made, and seven other childcare workers.
Grievance proceedings for Peter Hugh McGregor Ellis, aged 34, are being
handled separately by a lawyer.
Ellis and three of the women Gaye Davidson aged 39, Mane Keys, aged 43, and Janice
Buckingham, aged 45, have been committed for trial in the High Court on
charges of alleged indecencies involving children who attended the creche.
The High Court has been asked to review the decision of the District Court
judge who committed the accused for trial and will also hear applications to
have the accused discharged for lack of evidence.
Deborah Gillespie, aged 30 was discharged by the High Court on Friday on the
one remaining charge against her.
The union s secretary, Mr Peter Lawson, said the claims for compensation for
the 11 former childcare workers were based on their careers having been
They had been "labelled" by the circumstances surrounding the
"Most of these people will have taken professional training of some sort
and spent several years doing it. That time is now completely wasted he said.
All 13 workers were given dismissal notices at 5.30pm when the creche was
closed on September 3. The union successfully got the notices withdrawn but,
with the exception of two childcare workers redeployed by the council, the
workers were then made redundant on October 22.
The action was being taken because the union believed the council acted in an
unjustifiable manner which led to severe disadvantage, humiliation, and
trauma of the workers and resulted in unjustifiable dismissal for 11 of them
said Mr Lawson.
The council's actions were taken before any charges had been laid he said. A
hearing date for the claims had yet to be set.
The Christchurch City Manager, Mr John Gray said last night he had no comment